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Grief at the Holidays

When we look from a distance at someone who has suffered the death of a loved one, we usually think of that death as an event, a specific incident that happened at such-and-such date and time and place. But that’s not how it works. Yes, there was a specific date when a dying happened. But a death—for those who have lost someone, a death knows no end. Death is the absence of the one we love. The dying—the beginning of that absence—occurs, and then the next moment happens, and the moment after that. The moments pile up over time and turn into days, and months, and years, but in every single one of those moments—the one we love continues to be gone. Grieving Intensifies During the Holidays If y

The High Cost of Awareness

In late September of 2009, I came to a critical decision point in my life. At that time in my life, I was a very unhappy father and husband, and I did not see a future. The decision that I was faced with was whether and how to tell my wife of 18 years that I wanted a divorce because I needed out of the marriage to protect myself from being a target of irrational bouts of anger and occasional violent behavior. Upon making the decision to end the marriage, I was instantaneously presented with a new decision. You see, for about 40 years, I had kept a secret that I swore I would take to my grave. That secret was that since at least six years of age, I’d known that I was not a boy, and without th

Thank you for your service

Veterans Day is a time to recognize and celebrate the sacrifices made by all of the people who have served and are serving in all branches of the Armed Services. This recognition and celebration of Veterans happens around the country in big and small ways, by communities, businesses, and individual citizens. “Thank you for your service.” Five small words offered in gratitude. Five small words offered as a token of appreciation, knowing at some level that it pales in comparison to the price that was paid. Five small words that can sometimes be hard to hear, especially by those men and women whose military service includes trauma. Veterans who have been diagnosed with PTSD have talked with me

Putting the Healing Power of Music in the Hands of Heroes

I arrived at the Orlando VA Medical Center in October 2012. I quickly became immersed in the Evidence Based therapies favored in the VA and a year later became the first psychologist at the Daytona Beach Multi-Specialty Clinic to become certified in Cognitive Processing Therapy. I am a firm believer in evidence-based practice for PTSD. However, I also recognize that there are many pathways to healing. Finding one of these alternative pathways has had perhaps as profound an effect on me as it has on the many veterans who have joined me on it. In late 2014 I stumbled across a story about a program teaching guitar to veterans. A few days later I was taking my first steps on the journey to fou

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